Throughout the myriad of cultures on our planet, we find different and sometimes opposing beliefs defining the values of an ideal citizen. Among these beliefs it is difficult to isolate a single set and deem them to be superior to another. The reason for this is that they vary based on cultural tradition, religious beliefs and even the technological advancement of that particular society.
Although it is more evident with multicultural belief differences, we find large contrasts within the gap of one generation in a single culture. This phenomena is exemplified in Alice Munro’s “Friend of My Youth” with the relationship between the narrator and her mother.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the changing beliefs of a society throughout the period of one generation. The topics whose influences provided significant changes within the last generation and which will be discussed in this paper are the following: firstly, the changing role of women and the effects of feminism on our society; secondly, the social repercussions of the religious withdrawal from family life and the secularism of our culture. Finally, the effects that technology and the age of computerization have taken on people’s lifestyles will be examined.
Until the early seventies when the feminist movement began, women were considered to be inferior to men. This belief resulted in the notion that women were unfit to take part in the workforce and were better suited to stay at home and provide care for her family.
The feminist movement attempted to extinguish the preconception of inferiority that had stereotyped women in the past. This aggressive rejection of anything less then equality became a revolution of womankind and a new approach to life for most females.
The notion that women were unfit for the workplace was abolished and a stream of female employees surged into the workforce. These women were confident, ambitious and determined not only to succeed, but to outdo their male counterparts.
According to a “Woman’s Forum” database, sixty-percent of women in North America are active in the workforce today. This fact alone represents the vast change that has occurred in the role of women in our society. Although feminism still exists, at large, the goal of equality has been attained and women are no longer considered inferior to men.
The second focus of this paper is the influence that secularism has on our society. The emphasis on religion in today’s culture has diminished considerably over the period of a generation. The role of the church has changed from having strong political and social suasion to having no political and low social influence.
Although the doctrines of Jesus Christ have not changed for two thousand years, society as a whole has lost faith during the course of the last century. Friedrich Neitzsche describes the faith of modern humanity as follows: “Modern men, with their obtuseness to all Christian nomenclature, no longer sense the gruesome superlative which lay for an antique taste in the paradoxical formula \'God on the cross\'.”
Modern citizens may have become lazy or too preoccupied with the events that surround them in this very complex world to take the time to reflect on life. For in these moments of reflection, we come closer to our spiritual selves and the inclination to worship God emerges.
Another cause for what seems like a “religious withdrawal” is the astounding increase in technology and computerization. Some people seem to be turning to their computers for salvation and worshipping their hard drives as if they were higher life forms in order to relieve their existential angst.
It is this technology and computerization which will be the topic for the final part of this essay. Technology is a loose term that people apply to any modern advancement. According to the Thorndike-Barnhart dictionary, technology is defined as: “The science of industrial arts”. This indicates that technology is basically the science of fabricating goods and materials.
These goods and materials have facilitated the lives of humans to the greatest extent imaginable. Most people’s lives today in North America would not function if you took away their car and their computer. Most humans have become forced to rely on modern conveniences in order to function properly in our materialistic world.
Alice Munro’s “Friend of My Youth” depicts a culture which has resisted the changes examined in this essay